The current study assessed the immunogenicity and protective efficacy of various prime-boost vaccine regimens in rhesus macaques using combinations of recombinant DNA (rDNA), recombinant MVA (rMVA), and subunit gp140 protein. The rDNA and rMVA vectors were constructed to express Env from HIV-1 subtype CRF01_AE and Gag-Pol from CRF01_AE or SIVmac 239. One of the rMVAs, MVA/CMDR, has been recently tested in humans. Immunizations were administered at months 0 and 1 (prime) and months 3 and 6 (boost). After priming, HIV env-specific serum IgG was detected in monkeys receiving gp140 alone or rMVA but not in those receiving rDNA. Titers were enhanced in these groups after boosting either with gp140 alone or with rMVA plus gp140. The groups that received the rDNA prime developed env-specific IgG after boosting with rMVA with or without gp140. HIV Env-specific serum IgG binding antibodies were elicited more frequently and of higher titer, and breadth of neutralizing antibodies was increased with the inclusion of the subunit Env boost. T cell responses were measured by tetramer binding to Gag p11c in Mamu-A*01 macaques, and by IFN-gamma ELISPOT assay to SIV-Gag. T cell responses were induced after vaccination with the highest responses seen in macaques immunized with rDNA and rMVA. Macaques were challenged intravenously with a novel SHIV-E virus (SIVmac239 Gag-Pol with an HIV-1 subtype E-Env CAR402). Post challenge with SHIV-E, antibody titers were boosted in all groups and peaked at 4 weeks. Robust T cell responses were seen in all groups post challenge and in macaques immunized with rDNA and rMVA a clear boosting of responses was seen. A greater than 2 log drop in RNA copies/ml at peak viremia and earlier set point was achieved in macaques primed with rDNA, and boosted with rMVA/SHIV-AE plus gp140. Post challenge viremia in macaques immunized with other regimens was not significantly different to that of controls. These results demonstrate that a gp140 subunit and inclusion of SIV Gag-Pol may be critical for control of SHIV post challenge.
Vaccine regimens using different agents for priming and boosting have become popular for enhancing T cell and Ab responses elicited by candidate HIV/AIDS vaccines. Here we use a simian model to evaluate immunogenicity and protective efficacy of a recombinant modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA) vaccine in the presence and absence of a recombinant DNA prime. The simian vaccines and regimens represent prototypes for candidate HIV vaccines currently undergoing clinical testing.
Recombinant DNA and MVA immunogens expressed simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)mac239 Gag, PR, RT, and Env sequences. Vaccine schedules tested inoculations of MVA at months 0, 2, and 6 (MMM regimen) or priming with DNA at months 0 and 2 and boosting with MVA at months 4 and 6 (DDMM regimen). Twelve weekly rectal challenges with the heterologous SIV smE660 were initiated at 6 months following the last immunization.
Both regimens elicited similar 61–64% reductions in the per challenge risk of SIVsmE660 transmission despite raising different patterns of immune responses. The DDMM regimen elicited higher magnitudes of CD4 T cells whereas the MMM regimen elicited higher titers and greater avidity Env-specific IgG and more frequent and higher titer SIV-specific IgA in rectal secretions. Both regimens elicited similar magnitudes of CD8 T cells. Magnitudes of T cell responses, specific activities of rectal IgA Ab, and the tested specificities for neutralization and antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity did not correlate with risk of infection. However, the avidity of Env-specific IgG had a strong correlation with the per challenge risk of acquisition, but only for the DDMM group.
We conclude that for the tested immunogens in rhesus macaques, the simpler MMM regimen is as protective as the more complex DDMM regimen.
Vaccine; Immunodeficiency virus; Simian immunodeficiency virus; DNA vaccine MVA vaccine; avidity in protection
There is an urgent need to develop new pathogenic R5 simian/human immunodeficiency viruses (SHIVs) for the evaluation of candidate anti-HIV vaccines in nonhuman primates. Here, we characterize swarm SHIVAD8 stocks, prepared from three infected rhesus macaques with documented immunodeficiency at the time of euthanasia, for their capacity to establish durable infections in macaques following inoculation by the intravenous (i.v.) or intrarectal (i.r.) route. All three viral stocks (SHIVAD8-CE8J, SHIVAD8-CK15, and SHIVAD8-CL98) exhibited robust replication in vivo and caused marked depletion of CD4+ T cells affecting both memory and naïve CD4+ T lymphocyte subsets following administration by either route. Eleven of 22 macaques inoculated with the new SHIVAD8 stocks were euthanized with clinical symptoms of immunodeficiency and evidence of opportunistic infections (Pneumocystis, Candida, and Mycobacterium). A single but unique founder virus, also present in the SHIVAD8-CE8J swarm stock, was transmitted to two animals following a single i.r. inoculation of approximately 3 50% animal infectious doses, which is close to the threshold required to establish infection in all exposed animals. Because the three new SHIVAD8 viruses are mucosally transmissible, exhibited tier 2 sensitivity to anti-HIV-1 neutralizing antibodies, deplete CD4+ T lymphocytes in vivo, and induce AIDS in macaques, they are eminently suitable as challenge viruses in vaccine experiments.
Recent advances in assay technology have led to major improvements in how HIV-1 neutralizing antibodies are measured. A luciferase reporter gene assay performed in TZM-bl (JC53bl-13) cells has been optimized and validated. Because this assay has been adopted by multiple laboratories worldwide, an external proficiency testing program was developed to ensure data equivalency across laboratories performing this neutralizing antibody assay for HIV/AIDS vaccine clinical trials.
The program was optimized by conducting three independent rounds of testing, with an increased level of stringency from the first to third round. Results from the participating domestic and international laboratories improved each round as factors that contributed to inter-assay variability were identified and minimized. Key contributors to increased agreement were experience among laboratories and standardization of reagents.
A statistical qualification rule was developed using a simulation procedure based on the three optimization rounds of testing, where a laboratory qualifies if at least 25 of the 30 ID50 values lie within the acceptance ranges. This ensures no more than a 20% risk that a participating laboratory fails to qualify when it should, as defined by the simulation procedure. Five experienced reference laboratories were identified and tested a series of standardized reagents to derive the acceptance ranges for pass–fail criteria. This Standardized Proficiency Testing Program is the first available for the evaluation and documentation of assay equivalency for laboratories performing HIV-1 neutralizing antibody assays and may provide guidance for the development of future proficiency testing programs for other assay platforms.
Neutralizing; Antibody; Assay; Proficiency; HIV; TZM-bl
The RV144 clinical trial of a prime/boost immunizing regimen using recombinant canary pox (ALVAC-HIV) and two gp120 proteins (AIDSVAX B and E) was previously shown to have a 31.2% efficacy rate. Plasma specimens from vaccine and placebo recipients were used in an extensive set of assays to identify correlates of HIV-1 infection risk. Of six primary variables that were studied, only one displayed a significant inverse correlation with risk of infection: the antibody (Ab) response to a fusion protein containing the V1 and V2 regions of gp120 (gp70-V1V2). This finding prompted a thorough examination of the results generated with the complete panel of 13 assays measuring various V2 Abs in the stored plasma used in the initial pilot studies and those used in the subsequent case-control study. The studies revealed that the ALVAC-HIV/AIDSVAX vaccine induced V2-specific Abs that cross-react with multiple HIV-1 subgroups and recognize both conformational and linear epitopes. The conformational epitope was present on gp70-V1V2, while the predominant linear V2 epitope mapped to residues 165–178, immediately N-terminal to the putative α4β7 binding motif in the mid-loop region of V2. Odds ratios (ORs) were calculated to compare the risk of infection with data from 12 V2 assays, and in 11 of these, the ORs were ≤1, reaching statistical significance for two of the variables: Ab responses to gp70-V1V2 and to overlapping V2 linear peptides. It remains to be determined whether anti-V2 Ab responses were directly responsible for the reduced infection rate in RV144 and whether anti-V2 Abs will prove to be important with other candidate HIV vaccines that show efficacy, however, the results support continued dissection of Ab responses to the V2 region which may illuminate mechanisms of protection from HIV-1 infection and may facilitate the development of an effective HIV-1 vaccine.
Broadly neutralizing Abs to HIV-1 are well described; however, identification of Ags that elicit these Abs has proven difficult. Persistent infection with GB virus type C (GBV-C) is associated with prolonged survival in HIV-1–infected individuals, and among those without HIV-1 viremia, the presence of Ab to GBV-C glycoprotein E2 is also associated with survival. GBV-C E2 protein inhibits HIV-1 entry, and an antigenic peptide within E2 interferes with gp41-induced membrane perturbations in vitro, suggesting the possibility of structural mimicry between GBV-C E2 protein and HIV-1 particles. Naturally occurring human and experimentally induced GBV-C E2 Abs were examined for their ability to neutralize infectious HIV-1 particles and HIV-1–enveloped pseudovirus particles. All GBV-C E2 Abs neutralized diverse isolates of HIV-1 with the exception of rabbit anti-peptide Abs raised against a synthetic GBV-C E2 peptide. Rabbit anti–GBV-C E2 Abs neutralized HIV-1–pseudotyped retrovirus particles but not HIV-1–pseudotyped vesicular stomatitis virus particles, and E2 Abs immune-precipitated HIV-1 gag particles containing the vesicular stomatitis virus type G envelope, HIV-1 envelope, GBV-C envelope, or no viral envelope. The Abs did not neutralize or immune-precipitate mumps or yellow fever viruses. Rabbit GBV-C E2 Abs inhibited HIV attachment to cells but did not inhibit entry following attachment. Taken together, these data indicate that the GBV-C E2 protein has a structural motif that elicits Abs that cross-react with a cellular Ag present on retrovirus particles, independent of HIV-1 envelope glycoproteins. The data provide evidence that a heterologous viral protein can induce HIV-1–neutralizing Abs.
Breastfeeding is a leading cause of infant HIV-1 infection in the developing world, yet only a minority of infants exposed to HIV-1 via breastfeeding become infected. As a genetic bottleneck severely restricts the number of postnatally-transmitted variants, genetic or phenotypic properties of the virus Envelope (Env) could be important for the establishment of infant infection. We examined the efficiency of virologic functions required for initiation of infection in the gastrointestinal tract and the neutralization sensitivity of HIV-1 Env variants isolated from milk of three postnatally-transmitting mothers (n=13 viruses), five clinically-matched nontransmitting mothers (n=16 viruses), and seven postnatally-infected infants (n = 7 postnatally-transmitted/founder (T/F) viruses).
There was no difference in the efficiency of epithelial cell interactions between Env virus variants from the breast milk of transmitting and nontransmitting mothers. Moreover, there was similar efficiency of DC-mediated trans-infection, CCR5-usage, target cell fusion, and infectivity between HIV-1 Env-pseudoviruses from nontransmitting mothers and postnatal T/F viruses. Milk Env-pseudoviruses were generally sensitive to neutralization by autologous maternal plasma and resistant to breast milk neutralization. Infant T/F Env-pseudoviruses were equally sensitive to neutralization by broadly-neutralizing monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies as compared to nontransmitted breast milk Env variants.
Postnatally-T/F Env variants do not appear to possess a superior ability to interact with and cross a mucosal barrier or an exceptional resistance to neutralization that define their capability to initiate infection across the infant gastrointestinal tract in the setting of preexisting maternal antibodies.
HIV; Mother to child transmission; Galcer; Dendritic cells; Neutralizing antibodies
Most antibodies that broadly neutralize HIV-1 are highly somatically mutated in antibody clonal lineages that persist over time. Here, we describe the analysis of human antibodies induced during an HIV-1 vaccine trial (GSK PRO HIV-002) that used the clade B envelope (Env) gp120 of clone W6.1D (gp120W6.1D). Using dual-color antigen-specific sorting, we isolated Env-specific human monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) and studied the clonal persistence of antibodies in the setting of HIV-1 Env vaccination. We found evidence of VH somatic mutation induced by the vaccine but only to a modest level (3.8% ± 0.5%; range 0 to 8.2%). Analysis of 34 HIV-1-reactive MAbs recovered over four immunizations revealed evidence of both sequential recruitment of naïve B cells and restimulation of previously recruited memory B cells. These recombinant antibodies recapitulated the anti-HIV-1 activity of participant serum including pseudovirus neutralization and antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC). One antibody (3491) demonstrated a change in specificity following somatic mutation with binding of the inferred unmutated ancestor to a linear C2 peptide while the mutated antibody reacted only with a conformational epitope in gp120 Env. Thus, gp120W6.1D was strongly immunogenic but over four immunizations induced levels of affinity maturation below that of broadly neutralizing MAbs. Improved vaccination strategies will be needed to drive persistent stimulation of antibody clonal lineages to induce affinity maturation that results in highly mutated HIV-1 Env-reactive antibodies.
Broadly neutralizing antibodies to the CD4 binding site (CD4bs) of gp120 are generated by some HIV-1-infected individuals, but little is known about the prevalence and evolution of this antibody response during the course of HIV-1 infection. We analyzed the sera of 113 HIV-1 seroconverters from three cohorts for binding to a panel of gp120 core proteins and their corresponding CD4bs knockout mutants. Among sera collected between 99 and 258 weeks post-HIV-1 infection, 88% contained antibodies to the CD4bs and 47% contained antibodies to resurfaced stabilized core (RSC) probes that react preferentially with broadly neutralizing CD4bs antibodies (BNCD4), such as monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) VRC01 and VRC-CH31. Analysis of longitudinal serum samples from a subset of 18 subjects revealed that CD4bs antibodies to gp120 arose within the first 4 to 16 weeks of infection, while the development of RSC-reactive antibodies was more varied, occurring between 10 and 152 weeks post-HIV-1 infection. Despite the presence of these antibodies, serum neutralization mediated by RSC-reactive antibodies was detected in sera from only a few donors infected for more than 3 years. Thus, CD4bs antibodies that bind a VRC01-like epitope are often induced during HIV-1 infection, but the level and potency required to mediate serum neutralization may take years to develop. An improved understanding of the immunological factors associated with the development and maturation of neutralizing CD4bs antibodies during HIV-1 infection may provide insights into the requirements for eliciting this response by vaccination.
Infections with HIV still represent a major human health problem worldwide and a vaccine is the only long-term option to fight efficiently against this virus. Standardized assessments of HIV-specific immune responses in vaccine trials are essential for prioritizing vaccine candidates in preclinical and clinical stages of development. With respect to neutralizing antibodies, assays with HIV-1 Env-pseudotyped viruses are a high priority. To cover the increasing demands of HIV pseudoviruses, a complete cell culture and transfection automation system has been developed.
The automation system for HIV pseudovirus production comprises a modified Tecan-based Cellerity system. It covers an area of 5×3 meters and includes a robot platform, a cell counting machine, a CO2 incubator for cell cultivation and a media refrigerator. The processes for cell handling, transfection and pseudovirus production have been implemented according to manual standard operating procedures and are controlled and scheduled autonomously by the system. The system is housed in a biosafety level II cabinet that guarantees protection of personnel, environment and the product. HIV pseudovirus stocks in a scale from 140 ml to 1000 ml have been produced on the automated system. Parallel manual production of HIV pseudoviruses and comparisons (bridging assays) confirmed that the automated produced pseudoviruses were of equivalent quality as those produced manually. In addition, the automated method was fully validated according to Good Clinical Laboratory Practice (GCLP) guidelines, including the validation parameters accuracy, precision, robustness and specificity.
An automated HIV pseudovirus production system has been successfully established. It allows the high quality production of HIV pseudoviruses under GCLP conditions. In its present form, the installed module enables the production of 1000 ml of virus-containing cell culture supernatant per week. Thus, this novel automation facilitates standardized large-scale productions of HIV pseudoviruses for ongoing and upcoming HIV vaccine trials.
The role of antibodies directed against the hyper variable envelope region V1 of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1), has not been thoroughly studied. We show that a vaccine able to elicit strain-specific non-neutralizing antibodies to this region of gp120 is associated with control of highly pathogenic chimeric SHIV89.6P replication in rhesus macaques. The vaccinated animal that had the highest titers of antibodies to the amino terminus portion of V1, prior to challenge, had secondary antibody responses that mediated cell killing by antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC), as early as two weeks after infection and inhibited viral replication by antibody-dependent cell-mediated virus inhibition (ADCVI), by four weeks after infection. There was a significant inverse correlation between virus level and binding antibody titers to the envelope protein, (R = -0.83, p 0.015), and ADCVI (R = -0.84 p=0.044). Genotyping of plasma virus demonstrated in vivo selection of three SHIV89.6P variants with changes in potential N-linked glycosylation sites in V1. We found a significant inverse correlation between virus levels and titers of antibodies that mediated ADCVI against all the identified V1 virus variants. A significant inverse correlation was also found between neutralizing antibody titers to SHIV89.6 and virus levels (R = -0.72 p =0.0050). However, passive inoculation of purified immunoglobulin from animal M316, the macaque that best controlled virus, to a naïve macaque, resulted in a low serum neutralizing antibodies and low ADCVI activity that failed to protect from SHIV89.6P challenge. Collectively, while our data suggest that anti-envelope antibodies with neutralizing and non-neutralizing FcγR-dependent activities may be important in the control of SHIV replication, they also demonstrate that low levels of these antibodies alone are not sufficient to protect from infection.
In the RV144 trial, the estimated efficacy of a vaccine regimen against human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) was 31.2%. We performed a case–control analysis to identify antibody and cellular immune correlates of infection risk.
In pilot studies conducted with RV144 blood samples, 17 antibody or cellular assays met prespecified criteria, of which 6 were chosen for primary analysis to determine the roles of T-cell, IgG antibody, and IgA antibody responses in the modulation of infection risk. Assays were performed on samples from 41 vaccinees who became infected and 205 uninfected vaccinees, obtained 2 weeks after final immunization, to evaluate whether immune-response variables predicted HIV-1 infection through 42 months of follow-up.
Of six primary variables, two correlated significantly with infection risk: the binding of IgG antibodies to variable regions 1 and 2 (V1V2) of HIV-1 envelope proteins (Env) correlated inversely with the rate of HIV-1 infection (estimated odds ratio, 0.57 per 1-SD increase; P = 0.02; q = 0.08), and the binding of plasma IgA antibodies to Env correlated directly with the rate of infection (estimated odds ratio, 1.54 per 1-SD increase; P = 0.03; q = 0.08). Neither low levels of V1V2 antibodies nor high levels of Env-specific IgA antibodies were associated with higher rates of infection than were found in the placebo group. Secondary analyses suggested that Env-specific IgA antibodies may mitigate the effects of potentially protective antibodies.
This immune-correlates study generated the hypotheses that V1V2 antibodies may have contributed to protection against HIV-1 infection, whereas high levels of Env-specific IgA antibodies may have mitigated the effects of protective antibodies. Vaccines that are designed to induce higher levels of V1V2 antibodies and lower levels of Env-specific IgA antibodies than are induced by the RV144 vaccine may have improved efficacy against HIV-1 infection.
We have shown that sequential replicating adenovirus type 5 host range mutant human immunodeficiency virus/simian immunodeficiency virus (HIV/SIV) recombinant priming delivered first intranasally (i.n.) plus orally and then intratracheally (i.t.), followed by envelope protein boosting, elicits broad cellular immunity and functional, envelope-specific serum and mucosal antibodies that correlate with protection from high-dose SIV and simian/human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV) challenges in rhesus macaques. Here we extended these studies to compare the standard i.n./i.t. regimen with additional mucosal administration routes, including sublingual, rectal, and vaginal routes. Similar systemic cellular and humoral immunity was elicited by all immunization routes. Central and effector memory T cell responses were also elicited by the four immunization routes in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid and jejunal, rectal, and vaginal tissue samples. Cellular responses in vaginal tissue were more compartmentalized, being induced primarily by intravaginal administration. In contrast, all immunization routes elicited secretory IgA (sIgA) responses at multiple mucosal sites. Following a repeated low-dose intrarectal (i.r.) challenge with SIVmac251 at a dose transmitting one or two variants, protection against acquisition was not achieved except in one macaque in the i.r. immunized group. All immunized macaques exhibited reduced peak viremia compared to that of controls, correlated inversely with prechallenge serum antienvelope avidity, antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) titers, and percent antibody-dependent cell-mediated viral inhibition. Both antibody avidity and ADCC titers were correlated with the number of exposures required for infection. Notably, we show for the first time a significant correlation of vaccine-induced sIgA titers in rectal secretions with delayed acquisition. Further investigation of the characteristics and properties of the sIgA should elucidate the mechanism leading to this protective effect.
Plasma from a small subset of subjects chronically infected with HIV-1 shows remarkable magnitude and breadth of neutralizing activity. From one of these individuals (CH0219), we isolated two broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs), CH01 and VRC-CH31, from two clonal lineages of memory B cells with distinct specificities (variable loop 1 and 2 [V1V2] conformational specificity and CD4-binding site specificity, respectively) that recapitulate 95% of CH0219 serum neutralization breadth. These data provide proof of concept for an HIV-1 vaccine that aims to elicit bnAbs of multiple specificities.
HIV-1 envelope glycoproteins are the key viral proteins that mediate HIV-1 entry and cell–cell fusion. In contrast to HIV-1 entry, the mechanism of HIV-1 Env-mediated cell–cell fusion is relatively unclear. This study demonstrated that dynasore, a dynamin inhibitor, suppressed HIV-1 Env-mediated cell–cell fusion. Dynasore sensitivity of HIV-1 Env-mediated cell–cell fusion varied depending on the viral strains. Results from testing a panel of gp41 cytoplasmic tail truncation mutants suggested that the gp41 cytoplasmic tail might play a role in dynasore sensitivity. HIV-1 Env-mediated cell–cell fusion could also be suppressed by a dynamin dominant-negative mutant DNM2(K44A). In summary, these results suggested that dynamin 2 might play a role in HIV-1 Env-mediated cell–cell fusion.
An HIV-1 vaccine remains elusive, in part because various factors limit the quantity and quality of the antibodies raised against the viral envelope glycoprotein complex (Env). We hypothesized that targeting Env vaccines directly to B cells, by fusing them to molecules that bind and activate these cells, would improve Env-specific antibody responses. Therefore, we fused trimeric Env gp140 to A PRoliferation-Inducing Ligand (APRIL), B-cell Activating Factor (BAFF), and CD40 Ligand (CD40L). The Env-APRIL, Env-BAFF, and Env-CD40L gp140 trimers all enhanced the expression of activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID), the enzyme responsible for inducing somatic hypermutation, antibody affinity maturation, and antibody class switching. They also triggered IgM, IgG, and IgA secretion from human B cells in vitro. The Env-APRIL trimers induced higher anti-Env antibody responses in rabbits, including neutralizing antibodies against tier 1 viruses. The enhanced Env-specific responses were not associated with a general increase in total plasma antibody concentrations, indicating that the effect of APRIL was specific for Env. All the rabbit sera raised against gp140 trimers, irrespective of the presence of CD40L, BAFF, or APRIL, recognized trimeric Env efficiently, whereas sera raised against gp120 monomers did not. The levels of trimer-binding and virus-neutralizing antibodies were strongly correlated, suggesting that gp140 trimers are superior to gp120 monomers as immunogens. Targeting and activating B cells with a trimeric HIV-1 Env-APRIL fusion protein may therefore improve the induction of humoral immunity against HIV-1.
The influence of preexisting immunity to viral vectors is a major issue for the development of viral vectored vaccines. Here, we investigate the effect of preexisting vaccinia virus immunity on the immunogenicity and efficacy of a DNA/MVA SIV vaccine in rhesus macaques using a pathogenic intrarectal SIV251 challenge. Preexisting immunity decreased SIV-specific CD8 and CD4 T cell responses, but preserved the SIV-specific humoral immunity. In addition, preexisting immunity did not diminish the control of a SIV challenge mediated by the DNA/MVA vaccine. The peak and set point viremia was 150- and 17-fold lower, respectively in preimmune animals compared to control animals. The peak and set point viremia correlated directly with colorectal virus at 2 weeks post challenge suggesting that early control of virus replication at the site of viral challenge was critical for viral control. Factors that correlated with early colorectal viral control included (i) the presence of anti-SIV IgA in rectal secretions, (ii) high avidity binding antibody for the native form of Env and (iii) low magnitude of vaccine-elicited SIV-specific CD4 T cells displaying the CCR5 viral co-receptor. The frequency of SIV-specific CD8 T cells in blood and colorectal tissue at 2 weeks post challenge did not correlate with early colorectal viral control. These results suggest that preexisting vaccinia virus immunity may not limit the potential of recombinant MVA vaccines to elicit humoral immunity and highlight the importance of immunodeficiency virus vaccines achieving early control at the mucosal sites of challenge.
We sought to induce primate immunodeficiency virus-specific cellular and neutralizing antibody (nAb) responses in rhesus macaques (RM) through a bimodal vaccine approach. RM were immunized intragastrically (i.g.) with the live-attenuated Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) vector Lmdd-BdopSIVgag encoding SIVmac239 gag. SIV Gag-specific cellular responses were boosted by intranasal and intratracheal administration of replication-competent adenovirus (Ad5hr-SIVgag) encoding the same gag. To broaden antiviral immunity, the RM were immunized with multimeric HIV clade C (HIV-C) gp160 and HIV Tat. SIV Gag-specific cellular immune responses and HIV-1 nAb developed in some RM. The animals were challenged intrarectally with five low doses of R5 SHIV-1157ipEL-p, encoding a heterologous HIV-C Env (22.1% divergent to the Env immunogen). All five controls became viremic. One out of ten vaccinees was completely protected and another had low peak viremia. Sera from the completely and partially protected RM neutralized the challenge virus >90%; these RM also had strong SIV Gag-specific proliferation of CD8+ T cells. Peak and area under the curve of plasma viremia (during acute phase) among vaccinees was lower than for controls, but did not attain significance. The completely protected RM showed persistently low numbers of the α4β7-expressing CD4+ T cells; the latter have been implicated as preferential virus targets in-vivo. Thus, vaccine-induced immune responses and relatively lower numbers of potential target cells were associated with protection.
Live attenuated Listeria monocytogenes; Replication-competent adenovirus; Live oral vaccine; HIV/AIDS vaccine; Multimeric HIV clade C gp160; Prime-boost vaccination; α4β7 integrin
Broad and potent neutralizing antibody (BNAb) responses are rare in people infected by human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1). Clearly defining the nature of BNAb epitopes on HIV-1 envelope glycoproteins (Envs) targeted in vivo is critical for future directions of anti-HIV-1 vaccine development. Conventional techniques are successful in defining neutralizing epitopes in a small number of individual subjects but fail in studying large groups of subjects. Two independent methods were employed to investigate the nature of NAb epitopes targeted in 9 subjects, identified by the NIAID Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology (CHAVI) 001 and 008 clinical teams, known to make a strong BNAb response. Neutralizing activity from 8/9 subjects was enhanced by enriching high-mannose N-linked glycan (HM-glycan) of HIV-1 glycoproteins on neutralization target viruses and was sensitive to specific glycan deletion mutations of HIV-1 glycoproteins, indicating that HM-glycan-dependent epitopes are targeted by BNAb responses in these subjects. This discovery adds to accumulating evidence supporting the hypothesis that glycans are important targets on HIV-1 glycoproteins for BNAb responses in vivo, providing an important lead for future directions in developing NAb-based anti-HIV-1 vaccines.
We reported previously that while prolonged tenofovir monotherapy of macaques infected with virulent simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) resulted invariably in the emergence of viral mutants with reduced in vitro drug susceptibility and a K65R mutation in reverse transcriptase, some animals controlled virus replication for years. Transient CD8+ cell depletion or short-term tenofovir interruption within 1 to 5 years of treatment demonstrated that a combination of CD8+ cell-mediated immune responses and continued tenofovir therapy was required for sustained suppression of viremia. We report here follow-up data on 5 such animals that received tenofovir for 8 to 14 years.
Although one animal had a gradual increase in viremia from 3 years onwards, the other 4 tenofovir-treated animals maintained undetectable viremia with occasional viral blips (≤ 300 RNA copies/ml plasma). When tenofovir was withdrawn after 8 to 10 years from three animals with undetectable viremia, the pattern of occasional episodes of low viremia (≤ 3600 RNA/ml plasma) continued throughout the 10-month follow-up period. These animals had low virus levels in lymphoid tissues, and evidence of multiple SIV-specific immune responses.
Under certain conditions (i.e., prolonged antiviral therapy initiated early after infection; viral mutants with reduced drug susceptibility) a virus-host balance characterized by strong immunologic control of virus replication can be achieved. Although further research is needed to translate these findings into clinical applications, these observations provide hope for a functional cure of HIV infection via immunotherapeutic strategies that boost antiviral immunity and reduce the need for continuous antiretroviral therapy.
Tenofovir; PMPA; SIV; Functional cure; Antiretroviral; HIV
A simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) vaccine coexpressing granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF) prevented infection in 71% of macaques that received 12 rectal challenges. The SIVsmE660 challenge had the tropism of incident human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections and a similar genetic distance from the SIV239 vaccine as intraclade HIV isolates. The heterologous prime-boost vaccine regimen used recombinant DNA for priming and recombinant modified vaccinia Ankara for boosting. Co-expression of GM-CSF in the DNA prime enhanced the avidity of elicited immunoglobulin G for SIV envelope glycoproteins, the titers of neutralizing antibody for easy-to-neutralize SIV isolates, and antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity. Impressively, the co-expressed GM-CSF increased vaccine-induced prevention of infection from 25% in the non–GM-CSF co-expressing vaccine group to 71% in the GM-CSF co-expressing vaccine group. The prevention of infection showed a strong correlation with the avidity of the elicited Env-specific antibody for the Env of the SIVsmE660 challenge virus (r = 0.9; P < .0001).
The envelope glycoprotein (Env) of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) is composed of two noncovalently associated subunits: an extracellular subunit (gp120) and a transmembrane subunit (gp41). The functional unit of Env on the surface of infectious virions is a trimer of gp120/gp41 heterodimers. Env is the target of anti-HIV neutralizing antibodies. A considerable effort has been invested in the engineering of recombinant soluble forms of the virion-associated Env trimer as vaccine candidates to elicit anti-HIV neutralizing antibody responses. These soluble constructs contain three gp120 subunits and the extracellular segments of the corresponding gp41 subunits. The individual gp120/gp41 protomers on these soluble trimers are identical in amino acid sequence (homotrimers). Here, we engineered novel soluble trimeric gp140 proteins that are formed by the association of gp140 protomers that differ in amino acid sequence and glycosylation patterns (heterotrimers). Specifically, we engineered soluble heterotrimeric proteins composed of clade A and clade B Env protomers. The clade A gp140 protomers were derived from viruses isolated during acute infection (Q168a2, Q259d2.17, and Q461e2), whereas the clade B gp140 protomers were derived from a virus isolated during chronic infection (SF162). The amino acid sequence divergence between the clade A and the clade B Envs is approximately 24%. Neutralization epitopes in the CD4 binding sites and coreceptor binding sites, as well as the membrane-proximal external region (MPER), were differentially expressed on the heterotrimeric and homotrimeric proteins. The heterotrimeric gp140s elicited broader anti-tier 1 isolate neutralizing antibody responses than did the homotrimeric gp140s.
Existing technologies allow isolating antigen-specific monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) from B cells. We devised a direct approach to isolate mAbs with predetermined conformational epitope specificity, using epitope mimetics (mimotopes) that reflect the three-dimensional structure of given antigen subdomains. We performed differential biopanning using bacteriophages encoding random peptide libraries and polyclonal antibodies (Abs) that had been affinity-purified with either native or denatured antigen. This strategy yielded conformational mimotopes. We then generated mimotope-fluorescent protein fusions, which were used as baits to isolate single memory B cells from rhesus monkeys (RMs). To amplify RM immunoglobulin variable regions, we developed RM-specific PCR primers and generated chimeric simian-human mAbs with predicted epitope specificity. We established proof-of-concept of our strategy by isolating mAbs targeting the conformational V3 loop crown of HIV Env; the new mAbs cross-neutralized viruses of different clades. The novel technology allows isolating mAbs from RMs or other hosts given experimental immunogens or infectious agents.
Sexual transmission of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) most often results from productive infection by a single transmitted/founder (T/F) virus, indicating a stringent mucosal bottleneck. Understanding the viral traits that overcome this bottleneck could have important implications for HIV-1 vaccine design and other prevention strategies. Most T/F viruses use CCR5 to infect target cells and some encode envelope glycoproteins (Envs) that contain fewer potential N-linked glycosylation sites and shorter V1/V2 variable loops than Envs from chronic viruses. Moreover, it has been reported that the gp120 subunits of certain transmitted Envs bind to the gut-homing integrin α4β7, possibly enhancing virus entry and cell-to-cell spread. Here we sought to determine whether subtype C T/F viruses, which are responsible for the majority of new HIV-1 infections worldwide, share biological properties that increase their transmission fitness, including preferential α4β7 engagement. Using single genome amplification, we generated panels of both T/F (n = 20) and chronic (n = 20) Env constructs as well as full-length T/F (n = 6) and chronic (n = 4) infectious molecular clones (IMCs). We found that T/F and chronic control Envs were indistinguishable in the efficiency with which they used CD4 and CCR5. Both groups of Envs also exhibited the same CD4+ T cell subset tropism and showed similar sensitivity to neutralization by CD4 binding site (CD4bs) antibodies. Finally, saturating concentrations of anti-α4β7 antibodies failed to inhibit infection and replication of T/F as well as chronic control viruses, although the growth of the tissue culture-adapted strain SF162 was modestly impaired. These results indicate that the population bottleneck associated with mucosal HIV-1 acquisition is not due to the selection of T/F viruses that use α4β7, CD4 or CCR5 more efficiently.
Most new HIV-1 infections worldwide are caused by the sexual transmission of subtype C viruses, which are prevalent in Asia and southern Africa. While chronically infected individuals harbor a genetically diverse set of viruses, most new infections are established by single variants, termed transmitted/founder (T/F) viruses. This raises the question whether certain viral variants have particular properties allowing them to more efficiently overcome the transmission bottleneck. Preferential binding of the viral envelope (Env) to the integrin α4β7 has been hypothesized as one important feature of transmitted viruses. Here, we compared Envs from subtype C viruses that were transmitted to those that were prevalent in chronic infections for efficiency in utilizing α4β7, CD4 and CCR5 for cell entry and replication. We found that transmitted and chronic Envs engaged CD4 and CCR5 with equal efficiency, and that blocking the interaction between Env and α4β7 failed to inhibit replication of T/F as well as control viruses. While the search for determinants of transmission fitness remains an important goal, preferential CD4, CCR5 or α4β7 interactions do not appear to represent distinguishing features of T/F viruses.
Single genome sequencing of early HIV-1 genomes provides a sensitive, dynamic assessment of virus evolution and insight into the earliest anti-viral immune responses in vivo. By using this approach, together with deep sequencing, site-directed mutagenesis, antibody adsorptions and virus-entry assays, we found evidence in three subjects of neutralizing antibody (Nab) responses as early as 2 weeks post-seroconversion, with Nab titers as low as 1∶20 to 1∶50 (IC50) selecting for virus escape. In each of the subjects, Nabs targeted different regions of the HIV-1 envelope (Env) in a strain-specific, conformationally sensitive manner. In subject CH40, virus escape was first mediated by mutations in the V1 region of the Env, followed by V3. HIV-1 specific monoclonal antibodies from this subject mapped to an immunodominant region at the base of V3 and exhibited neutralizing patterns indistinguishable from polyclonal antibody responses, indicating V1–V3 interactions within the Env trimer. In subject CH77, escape mutations mapped to the V2 region of Env, several of which selected for alterations of glycosylation. And in subject CH58, escape mutations mapped to the Env outer domain. In all three subjects, initial Nab recognition was followed by sequential rounds of virus escape and Nab elicitation, with Nab escape variants exhibiting variable costs to replication fitness. Although delayed in comparison with autologous CD8 T-cell responses, our findings show that Nabs appear earlier in HIV-1 infection than previously recognized, target diverse sites on HIV-1 Env, and impede virus replication at surprisingly low titers. The unexpected in vivo sensitivity of early transmitted/founder virus to Nabs raises the possibility that similarly low concentrations of vaccine-induced Nabs could impair virus acquisition in natural HIV-1 transmission, where the risk of infection is low and the number of viruses responsible for transmission and productive clinical infection is typically one.
Characterizing early adaptive immune responses to HIV-1 can inform studies of virus persistence, pathogenesis and natural history and can guide rational vaccine design. Previous studies examined the role of neutralizing antibodies (Nab) in acute and chronic HIV-1 infection but not against the precise envelope (Env) glycoproteins of transmitted/founder (T/F) viruses and not in direct comparison with autologous cellular immune responses in the same subjects. Here, we identified T/F HIV-1 env genes and their progeny in three subjects by single genome sequencing and performed a dynamic assessment of Nab responses based on env evolution and phenotypic changes in the Env glycoprotein over time. Surprisingly, we found genetic evidence of Nab activity as early as 2 weeks post-seroconversion, with Nab titers as low as 1∶20 to 1∶50 (IC50) selecting for virus escape. Nabs targeted different regions of the HIV-1 envelope (Env) in a strain-specific, conformationally sensitive manner. Although delayed in comparison with autologous CD8 T-cell responses, Nabs appeared earlier in HIV-1 infection than previously recognized and impeded virus entry at low titers. This raises the possibility that similarly low concentrations of vaccine-induced Nabs could impair virus acquisition in natural HIV-1 transmission, where the risk of infection is low and the number of viruses responsible for transmission and productive clinical infection is typically one.